1. The Cube is No Design Dud

    brian on 2007.05.30
    at 11:37 am

    Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox has gotten a few links today in his call to avoiding hiring a “genius designer” instead of following a sound development strategy that involves usability methods. It’s a no brainer – besides even if you could find a genius, they are few, far between and expensive. None of that bugs me.

    This is what I want to nitpick:

    The most common example given is Steve Jobs. Granted, Jobs has been in charge of some great products. He’s also produced many duds as well, the most famous being the NeXT machine and the Mac Cube1.

    JN goes on to say SJ didn’t actually design the Cube, he had a team of brilliant designers, and he manages him. All of that is true, except in the realm we’re talking about here – design and usability – the Cube is hardly a dud.

    This “design dud” is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

    I have had the pleasure of working daily on a Cube, while at my first job at the University of Connecticut. I can attest that the Cube was a wonderful experience to use. Silent, small, beautiful. It is one of the most joyful computers I have ever used.

    Because the Cube was poorly priced and marketed does not make it a design failure. It achieved all of its design and usability goals, from a user standpoint. People still today search for them on eBay, and still upgrade and use them.

    One problem with Apple being so successful at design and usability is that they’re a constant example… except few people actually understand what’s going on at Apple, so they just cherry pick whatever’s convenient to back up whatever idea they’re trying to push. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here… JN is responding to “what he hears,” (and I think his choice of the Cube is misguided) but it’s something that happens all over the design field.

    1 “Mac Cube” translates to the PowerMac G4 Cube.

    Posted in: Apple · Design


    Comments (1)

    1. Joshua Porter said on 2007.05.30 at 01:20 pm

      Well said...

      This would be a perfect post for Brain Sparks. :)

      One almost-nitpick. I’m not sure that the distinction between design and price/marketing is entirely clear. I think one could make a reasonable argument that price is a design constraint just as usability is.

      Also, you’re right on about Apple being a too-common example…it’s just not a level playing field, and to compare other companies with Apple is almost impossible.

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